Even When You Aren’t In Your Dream Job
Imagine crawling into bed on Sunday night with excited anticipation for the day ahead. Feel the energy of a day filled with opportunities to do work you absolutely love. Imagine the intent with which you’d wake up, dress, and head to work—whether it be a classroom, an office, a studio, or whatever the facility—You are showing up ready to give 110% of your very best self to the task at hand.
Are you currently in that job?
It is reported that nearly half of all Americans are working in jobs that are unsatisfying or unfulfilling. Further research suggests that only 20% of American workers are even passionate about their work. Sadly enough, I can say I use to be one of these Americans. I worked for seven years in a job where only a small portion of the work was even close to fulfilling. I was great at what I did, and consequently, the reward for good work is promotion in and more of the same type of work. But what happens when you are good at something you actually don’t like? That meant I spent my time doing more and more of the work I didn’t love. My dream job appeared to be getting further and further away! So then, can you guess the temptation I was faced with day in and day out? I struggled with how to keep putting in a genuine top-notch effort.
How do you approach your days when you aren’t in your dream job? Is it even important to show up with the same 110% mentality if you don’t love what you do? Is it even possible?
From the Pasture to the Palace
If you are in the same predicament, let me help you find inspiration from a young shepherd boy named David. I love the story in I Samuel 17:17-37 for a couple of reasons, but today’s focus is on David’s confidence and courage to step up to defeat the defiant Philistine giant named Goliath.
As the story goes:
And the rest is history…
Expand Your Knowledge Base & Skillset
In simply fulfilling the responsibilities of your day-to-day, be sure to learn as much as you can and build new skills–even if they don’t seem valuable. David’s job was to guard and nurture his father’s flock. In this story we learn that doing so meant learning how to fight off predators bigger and more powerful than him. It also taught him that God was his faithful deliverer. So, while he wasn’t trained in combat like his brothers, he boldly told the King he would handle Goliath personally.
Identify Your Strengths
You don’t have to love the work you do in order to build your personal assets. Take every opportunity to discover your strengths. When King Saul tried to give David his armor and his weapons, David declined, saying I am not used to these. His skills and his abilities had already been tested in the pastures. Therefore, he had confidence in his speed–he’d learned to use his small stature to his benefit. He trusted his ability to select the appropriate weapons (just the right rocks). He had a strategy to go out against the giant just as he had with the bear and the lion.
Gain Experience & Build Confidence
Have you heard it said to not despise small beginnings (Zech 4:10)? Well, the statement was made in reference to the slow progress in rebuilding the temple, but the same applies here when we are faced with serving in a job or a position that isn’t what we’d prefer. David started in the pastures taking care of sheep and ended up leading the armies of Israel and eventually becoming King. We get to see how his experience as a shepherd gave him the confidence to take on Goliath. The experience I gained during my run in a job I didn’t love included managing different personality types, negotiating and advocating, planning and executing both events and processes. All of which (and more) have helped me navigate to the place where I get to do the work that I love. Successfully resolving the challenges I faced in the past built my confidence for the challenges I face today.
Regardless of the assignment you find yourself in at work, or in life, no assignment is worthless. Whether you are running a major business or serving sandwiches, managing major entertainment events or managing your home filled with toddlers and school-aged kids, there is opportunity for personal growth and development, and the chance to make an impact right where you are at.
Now that I’ve come to a place in my life where I get to spend my days doing work that I love, I consider all the personal characteristics, skills, and strengths that help me achieve my current success, and many of my personal assets were developed during the time I spent in a job I didn’t even like.
We have no indication that David disliked his job as a shepherd, but we do get to see how his time in that job prepared him for his ultimate interview with the King as he defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath. There is something valuable to be gained in every assignment. As you dig deep within to be a good steward of a job that maybe you don’t love at all, just remind yourself that God is just building your capacity for whatever is coming next. There is something in the current assignment that will help you rise up in your next one.